These are crazy times we're living in! Chances are, you're working from home (if you're not -- please stay safe. Check out this page for helpful information about your rights). Working from home can be great, but it can come with major drawbacks. In fact, most of the advice for remote-work jobs assumes you can leave your house and work from a coffee shop or take a break and hit the gym. But that's not the case now! So what should you do to stay sane and productive?
First and foremost, put your health first. If you're sick, you need to heal. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you can't ask for the day off. You don't want to mismanage a project because you have a raging fever. But if you're healthy and quarantining for the greater good, here's some tried and true advice:
Don't work more hours than you usually would. If you typically have an 8 hour day, that's still the case. You're still entitled to a lunch break, and you don't need to have your laptop open 24/7. Do your best to stick to normal working hours -- this is good for your own mental health and helpful for keeping up with your colleagues. But if you generally find yourself more productive in the afternoon and a zombie at your desk every morning in the office, you can be more flexible about when you actually work.
Try to stay connected to your team. If you have a regularly-scheduled morning meeting in the office, suggest that your team continue that tradition through video chat. Keep your conference calls -- the more outside contact you have, the less isolated you'll feel. If you have a micromanaging or difficult boss, they'll probably assume you're doing nothing all day, so don't let them! In this scenario, you might consider sending a wrap-up email outlining what you did over the course of the day, simply to let them know that you're still on top of your projects. If your boss won't appreciate a longer wrap-up email, consider cc'ing them on messages you would ordinarily mention to them in passing, so they can see you're working throughout the day. Don't spam them, but make sure you're actively keeping the powers that be in the loop.
You'll likely find that without tons of meetings and interruptions from colleagues, you can get through your tasks much more quickly. Add the fact that so many businesses and productions are totally shut down, and you might really have very little to do. When this happens, you could start a project you've been putting off for a while. Now's a great time to organize your files, read that pile of submissions you've been neglecting, etc.
If you exhaust those options, consider your own professional development. Is there a show you've been meaning to check out, maybe written by a networking contact or similar to an idea you have in development? Watch it! Keeping up to date on pop culture as "professional development" is one of the perks of working in Hollywood, but when you're overwhelmed with deadlines it can be hard. So read that book, listen to that podcast, check out that YouTube series, and enjoy.
You might also consider learning a new skill. Now's a great time to enroll in some online courses. This could be to develop a skill that will help you in your current position or something that will help you make the career transition you've been considering. If you're an aspiring writer, now's also a good time to work on your script. Take advantage of the time you have now to work on side projects without sacrificing your current responsibilities.
Lastly, remember to get up and MOVE. Your back will thank you, and so will your mental health. The streets are still open -- imagine yourself as a dog that needs to be let out for its walk once or twice a day. Walk around the block (grab an umbrella when the weather refuses to cooperate). Getting outside for a few minutes will revitalize you and keep you energetic and healthy. Even better -- call a friend when you go for your walk. We may be social distancing physically, but that just means we have to lean in to social connection emotionally.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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